345 For Commission Of Inquiry

 

Sources in the Law Officers Department, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) and the Auditor General’s Office that has been ordered by the President to do a forensic audit of all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) have told The Exclusive that the dragnet of the investigations by these three legal bodies could involve at least 345 names.

Reliable sources say from a careful examination of documents, the scope of the investigations will involve not only those names mentioned earlier in the Governance Transition Team (GTT) Report for investigation, but will also spread to tangle many more senior officials that, sources say, aided and abetted the commission of corruption offenses either willfully or by failing to act responsibly.

It could be recalled that a very noisy controversy erupted between the former ruling All People’s Congress (APC) and the now ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) that spread nationwide after the GTT Report’s recommendation that the new SLPP Government set up Commissions of Inquiry to investigate corruption and racketeering by former senior officials in the former APC Government became alarming.

The now main opposition APC interpreted the GTT Report’s recommendation sinisterly, calling it a witch-hunt against their officials that served in the Koroma administration. The brouhaha extended to Parliament when the Office of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice laid three constitutional instruments in the Well asking lawmakers to pass them into law, thereby giving the government legal authority to establish three Commissions of Inquiry.

APC MPs raised a hue and cry when the ruling SLPP tried to bulldoze the three constitutional instruments through parliamentary approval without allowing MPs to debate its merits and demerits. After a vociferous campaign inside the House by leading APC MPs, the SLPP elected Speaker of the House rescinded his earlier declaration that the instruments would not be debated agreed to the debate. The entire nation stayed glued to their radios, TVs and other communication devices to keep abreast of the marathon debate that took place. At the end, APC which vehemently opposed the bill failed to get the two-thirds votes required to block their passage and the instruments consequently became law.

Sources in the Ministry of Justice informed this medium that work is far advanced with regards setting up of the three commissions of inquiry which this President told parliament and the nation is not a witch hunt targeted at specifically APC officials that served in the former government.

The President maintained  that the Commissions of Inquiry were a strategy meant to not only hold the past government accountable but to also, importantly, keep the excesses of this government in check, knowing that similarly, at the end of their tenure in office, they too would be required to give account of their stewardship.

Law Officers Department officials that are reportedly involved with the details of the Commissions confided in this press that the Commissions would sit earliest January, 2019, adding that the Bank of Sierra Leone Complex at Kingtom is one of the likely venues for the sittings and, according to the Office of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, they would be open to the public and broadcast to ensure openness, fairness and transparency of the proceedings.